The 2017 Honda Ridgeline has the truck world up in arms. How dare Honda create a unibody front-wheel-drive vehicle that has a pickup bed? Everyone knows traditional trucks have body on frame construction, gobs of off-road capability, less than precise handling characteristics, and – above all – fuel economy that is warming the earth as we speak. Well, Honda would like to disagree with those preconceived notions and propose a more refined way to haul your daisies, or 4′-by-8′ sheets of plywood. Welcome the second generation Ridgeline, a pickup that rides more like a car-based crossover and claims best-in-class acceleration. Roman had a chance to put it up against the number one and two competitors in the midsize truck segment, the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado, respectively.
All three of the trucks were similarly equipped in terms of engine size, trim level, power, and price. Roman had to make an assumption on the Ridgeline’s price, but we know the top of the line Black Edition will top out at just under $43k. So what is the major difference between the three trucks? Based on initial driving impressions, the Ridgeline is by far the quietest most car-like ride with the quietest cabin. On more than one occasion Roman admits he thought he was in a crossover. The Ridgeline also has the best-in-class fuel economy, although not by very much. Combined MPG estimates from the EPA are 22 for FWD models and 21 for AWD models. As configured, the competitors both achieve 20 MPG in combined driving.
The Toyota Tacoma is the most truck-like of the three. It comes standard with tried and true-and-reliability and the off-roading ‘cred to back it up. It still has the “unique” seating position that makes drivers feel like they’re sitting on top of the ‘Taco instead of nestled in it. With the all-new 2016 Tacoma, the growing midsize truck segment has only become more competitive… but the Tacoma is by far still the sales champ.
So where and how does the Chevrolet Colorado fit into the mix? Well, somewhere in the middle. It has a more refined ride than does the Tacoma and likely offers more off-roading ability than the Ridgeline… once the front air dam is removed. In all fairness, we have not yet tested the Ridgeline on a serious off-road course but the Honda Pilot, on which it is based, successfully completed our Gold Mine Hill off-road challenge. We will be looking forward to putting the Ridgeline through the same test.
Each truck speaks to a different customer. The Ridgeline will appeal to owners who want a vehicle that is essentially a crossover SUV with a bed. The Tacoma is for off-roaders who appreciate a rugged truck that has excellent resale value. The Colorado fits the bill for people who like a refined ride that can do the “truck stuff” too and also can be equipped with a very efficient turbo-diesel.
Watch the video below for more of Roman’s impressions after driving all three vehicles back-to-back.